The Saucony Kinvara – Not Quite Barefoot

7 05 2010

Men's Saucony Kinvara

One of the best things about working in running specialty is being the first to see brand new technology arrive on the market.  That happened today when we opened some boxes from Saucony which contained some of the first pairs of ProGrid Kinvaras to roll off of the assembly line!

If you’ve read the book Born to Run, chances are that on some level you are intrigued by the idea of barefoot or minimalist running (and similarly inspired shoes).  Without opening that can of worms, let’s just nod to the fact that most folks who have run track or cross-country also have run barefoot strides on a football field or manicured golf course as a supplement to the miles they ran on the roads, tracks, or trails in running shoes that protected them from the pounding.

Nike developed “Free” technology a few years ago although, ever since Lance wore a pair on the podium at the Tour’, it has become mostly fashion-driven product.  Vibram developed the Five Finger shoes which are now experiencing such wide success that they are quite difficult to find.

Women's Saucony Kinvara

Saucony brings the Kinvara ($90) to the shoe wall as their effort in the minimalist category, and our first order arrived today!  Built with almost no carbon rubber on the outsole and with very minimal upper materials, the Kinvara weighs just over 7.5 ounces.  But shoes that light have been around for years.  The difference is that the Kinvara is built to be not only minimalist in weight, but also to be more “level.”  To over-simplify, this means that the thickness of the foam under the heel is about the same thickness under the midfoot (arch) and forefoot (toes).  This allows the user to land on his/her midfoot and forefoot – with his/her foot more “level” – rather than being forced to land heel-first as happens with a traditional running shoe which is built with more foam under the heel.

Saucony believes (and so do we) that running barefoot sometimes can work your feet and consequently your legs in ways that traditional running shoes do not allow.  Some of us aging cross-country runners lack the elasticity and cartilage that we once had, however, and the Kinvara is a means by which our feet can run uninhibited by shoe structure but still have some protection from the very hard ground.  For most, the Kinvara will not be a primary shoe for daily running but, rather, will be an additional tool in a total training routine.

The Progrid Kinvara isn’t supposed to be available until July 1st (and isn’t listed on the Saucony website yet), but we already have them in stock for both men and women.

Run by Fleet Feet Sports and check ’em out!



5 responses

15 05 2010

I just got a pair to evaluate and took them around Central Park yesterday at noon. The light weight and flexibility provided a different ride than the one I get off the heel of my Brooks GTS 10s (that I still love). I want to be a mid foot striker and now I have no excuses. The Kinvaras are fast too. I ran about 15 sec/mile faster than usual.

18 05 2010
Bob Hearn

They had them at the Boston Marathon expo, and I picked up a pair. I’ve been running in them for a few weeks now, and I love them! I too seem to run a fair amount faster in them than in the Saucony Rides, my previous trainers. I’m even considering using them for a trail race this weekend.

5 07 2010

I tried a pair and they were too narrow at the front for me. Any idea if these will be introduced with a wide version?

5 07 2010


Usually most vendors will offer additional widths if a new shoe becomes a staple among their main offerings, and that can take some time. Although this shoe has been so surprisingly successful that Saucony is currently sold out of what we call “at-once” availability, it is still a very niche segment of Saucony’s line of technical running shoes. As far as the current Kinvara, there are no plans to offer wide widths – maybe, by the time the Kinvara 2, or 3 arrive, Saucony will have expanded their size range.

If you’re looking for a light-weight shoe, an alternative might be the Green Silence from Brooks: it fits just a little bit wider than the Kinvara. The Green Silence is a lightweight racing flat with a traditional downward slope from the heel to the forefoot, however, so if you’re looking spice up your training with some minimalist running, it would not be your choice.

Thanks for your question! I hope that I’ve answered it for you (although I’m not certain I’ve helped you find a solution for finding a wider-fitting, minimalist construction shoe). If you have any follow-up questions, reach me here or at

Take care, and
May you run like the wind!


9 10 2011
I’m in love… | From the Goofy Path

[…] The Kinvaras are lightweight, light support, neutral shoes, kind of a step in the direction of minimalist running, with a bit more protection and support than is offered by Vibram Five Fingers (or going […]

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